Old/New Things

The lack of posts as of late has been because I haven’t really had much to talk about over the past month. I don’t want to leave you guys in the dark here, so I decided it was about time to give you a little update. With that, here is what has happened over the past couple weeks:

The house next door (our future guest house) is coming along quickly! The plumbing is completely done as well as the electric. The rooms have been changed and walls moved and bathrooms put in. The things that remain for it to be ready to be used are finishing the smooth coat on the walls and sanding so that paint can go on and the floor being tiled. After that, the extras have to be bought and put in (lights, fans, AC, solar panels, etc.) This next team coming on the 10th will be the last team to stay at this house! We are so excited for this project to be finished so that our teams and visitors can be more comfortable. God has been faithful to us as all of the money needed for the first floor has been donated!!! If you are one of the donors, we want to extend a warm thank you to you and your families. This will be such a blessing for the Foundation for Peace!

This last week (August 25-September 2) I had the opportunity to visit the Dominican Republic again! It was a great time of relaxation and fellowship with my fellow ministers for the Kingdom of Christ. The two American workers Aimee and Anna left shortly after I arrived so the majority of my time was spent with Fania (as per usual). I love that woman, she has become like a sister to me over the past several months and even though we have only spent a total of less than a month together I feel like we’ve been the best of friends forever. I have enjoyed times of deep conversation with her about Haiti, God, racism, and other such amazing topics. There have also been many times of laughter and joking. For some reason she feels comfortable around me which I don’t really understand haha.. this chunky white guy with a big beard and lots of hair.. but I thank God for each time I get to spend a couple days with her. I am praying that she can continue her education in the States! That would be such a great opportunity for her and one that she wants. Please, even if you don’t know her, pray for Fania! She needs it! I have shared some about her past in previous blogs and so for those who read those, you can imagine how studying in the States would be a big blessing for her.

As my time here comes closer to a close, I ask that you would continue to pray into my future. Please pray for wisdom and clarity about what God wants me to do after I am done with Foundation for Peace. Please pray also that I would have the humility to accept his will for me even if I don’t agree. Please also pray for my future wife, as I have been as of late. (I shoulda done been praying for her for a long time huh..) I know God has great things in store for me, but the part where I don’t know what they are can be frustrating sometimes. There are details about my future that I really desire to come to fruition and sometimes leaving those desires in the hands of another, even if that other is The Supreme being, is tough to do. It requires me to give them up and just accept which, if any, of them come to pass.

I am very much looking forward to returning to NJ in October and spending time with those I love. I have been feeling a deep yearning for my loved ones and country as of late, I’m not sure if that’s because the time to return is coming closer or what. There has been an interesting update about possibilities for work after this, but I don’t know enough about it yet to feel comfortable sharing. Hopefully after I meet with some people this week I will have a better understanding about the opportunity and be able to post about it.

Please continue to pray for yer boy as the end of this year will potentially be full of hard choices. God’s guidance via the Holy Spirit is what I want and need in order to navigate the waters of the future.

Mesi anpil,

Ben

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Looking upward|looking forward

As you probably know already, my time in Haiti is coming to a close. I agreed to give two years of my life working here with Foundation for Peace and those two years are done at the beginning of October! It’s crazy that it has been two years already.. Time is an interesting thing; days go by slow but months and years go by in the blink of an eye. It’s just one of the many mysteries we don’t understand about our world. Maybe we’ll understand it when we get to heaven? Who knows..

So I have a little more than a month and a half left until I return to the States(Oct. 3). Our last team left on Wednesday and we don’t have a team until Sept. 10th so as you can imagine I have a good amount of down time. It’s not the ending that I would have wanted for my ministry here (not working with groups much), but I believe that God is sovereign over everything and this is what I need even though I don’t know it. With the rest of my time here (FFP work aside) I hope to continue to better myself spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. There is such a certain type of quiet here in Haiti; even though it’s not a physical quietness, there is a sort of ease of focus. I find it much easier to pray here, easier to focus on things. I think that has to do with the lack of comforts this life has. For instance, in the states if I don’t have much to do I am playing video games. Here I can watch Netflix, but the weird thing is, often times it’s not as strong a pull to do those types of things. All that being said, I hope to continue to lay my life out before God and worship him each day for what he has done and will do in my life. I hope to grow in wisdom and discernment.

Aside from that, I wish to visit the DR one last time before I go as I am fond of the staff and country. It truly is a respite from the chaos of everyday Haiti. I feel at ease when I am there (not that I don’t when I am here, though) and enjoy the slower pace of life. I have some technology to take to one of the staff, Fania as well which is important. There was talk of going back up to the pine forest before I leave but I’m not sure if that is going to happen. That was such a beautiful and rugged experience and I hope to be able to return again.

As far as my future goes, many people have asked me, “what will you be doing when you get back,” to which I reply, “I’m not sure.” In truth I have little idea of what God will have me do starting this fall. The fact of this mystery hasn’t yet become unnerving and please pray that I continue to have peace about it until the door is made clear. I have said many times that I never wanted to live in Haiti in the first place, so if God provided for me here then I know he will provide for me in what he has next for me. I have been praying into my future for a while now, knowing that after these two years are up it’s just an unknown to me and I ask that you join with me in this. I have ideas and desires for my future but as we know, God is the one who orders our steps and he will never lead us wrong.

Please continue to be in prayer for me as I prepare to transition back to the US and search out all that God has waiting for me there, not just job-wise. I want to thank you all over and over as my sponsors and donors and prayer warriors. In the words of Paul, your donations and prayers “are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18)

Thank you, again and again.

Much love,

Ben

Some thoughts on the past month

It’s been a while since I posted anything on here; some may say too long, me being one of them. Well as most of you know, I have been in the States over the past month visiting family and friends. I left on the 3rd of July and came back yesterday as opposed to the 17th when I was originally supposed to come back. So, it was just about a month of vacation which was definitely a blessing!

This past month was filled with so many blessings and graces that they will be hard to explain in length, but I will try. The day after I got home I had the pleasure of going to the beach with some of my best friends and mates. This was a fun time of fellowship and laughs and sun and sand. Those friends will always be close to my heart and so it was great to start my vacation with them 🙂

Going straight from there to WV with Adam and my cousin Caleb was also fun as we held good company along the way and I got to catch up some with my cousin and we three laughed and joked as we drove to the site of our family reunion. Now that week was arguably the best week in the past three years; this being firstly because so many of those wonderful people I hadn’t seen in three years or more. Secondly, because there were more than double as last time we had it three years ago! There were over 80 people in attendance for a whole week of family fellowship fun and blessings. My family has a rich heritage of Gospel roots and Christ’s love and this was on display the whole week as we shared of ourselves and our lives to each other. I know that this is a little taste of what Heaven will look like, and it blows me away. What have I done to deserve such a dope family? Nothing! Grace upon grace upon grace. Know that you are deeply loved, my family who are reading this. Three years is way too long to get time away with you all.. I also got to share with everyone about my time in Haiti and what God has called me to for the past two years which was a blessing in itself. I used to shy away from public speaking, and in fact was terrified of it but as of late I enjoy chances to talk about what God is doing in my life. It was an honor to share and glory in what God has done with those that are so close to me and also are missionaries in their own ways.

The next two plus weeks of my vacation were spent in NJ with my family and friends. Originally I was supposed to return to Haiti on the 17th but there was much unrest here at that time so unfortunately our teams started canceling/rescheduling their trips. This was definitely not good for our ministry because we are somewhat dependent on mission teams to come down and give of their skills and finances. That being said, please be in prayer for peace in Haiti and advancement of righteous leaders who can stand against the corruption in the government. Although it was a bummer for FFP, God used it for good in my life as a blessing of an extra two weeks with my loved ones. I had the opportunity to fellowship with some of my best friends and that was definitely the highlight of the past two weeks; the conversations that were shared, the love and wisdom that was spoken and acted out, and the relationships that were deepened by the physical and spiritual presences of one another. It was also tough in a way being there, but as I have much to say about hardship I will save it for the next blog post.

I couldn’t have asked for a better July. God knew that I needed a break and he sure gave it to me! Even in my unfaithfulness, he was and is faithful and for that I am continually grateful. Each day that he has given me to love and be loved is a grace and I’m so glad I could share in those graces each day with you all. My time is almost done here, and I don’t know what’s coming next but I have to trust in and hold on to my Rock and my Redeemer because I know he will provide what I need.

Please be praying into my future as I will be in need of a job. I am trying to keep my eyes and ears tuned into His will and submit my will to his but as you know, that’s hard. I crave the blessings of your prayers.

Know that you are loved, again and again I will say that this all wouldn’t be possible without the moving of your hearts to support me in every way necessary. God is doing amazing things through you all here in Haiti.

Until next time,

Ben

The feeling of “missing” people

Today has become one of those days. If you live away from friends and family, especially in a different country than them, you have experienced days like this. Everything is fine and dandy and you’re focused on your work/whatever you have to do that day and then suddenly you are overcome by a wave of sadness stemming from the absence of the loves in your life. This is an odd feeling if you think about it because those people you love are still there and still alive, and often times just a skype/FB/WhatsApp call away but they are just not physically close. Physical closeness and touch are important when it comes to people you love because that’s how God made us humans. We are created to be in fellowship with one another, in community.

Now I do have community here in Haiti and fellowship with my friends/co-workers but it’s just not the same as the deep-rooted friendships and relationships that have been left behind in the States. I’m not a stranger to these emotions that are best described as “missing” people in your life, but not often have they come at such a random time with such force as they did late this morning. The only other time I can remember that I had a flood of such emotions was the first few days that I was here, at the end of September 2016. This is bound to happen to anyone who lives away from country and family and friendships that run deep and I knew this when I signed up so this doesn’t come as a surprise. It’s just part of my life as of now. It’s natural.

Besides that, I wanted to update you on what’s happening in my world over the next 20 or so days. We have a large medical team from Emory U. coming on Sunday and staying until the 27th. We will be doing 6 medical clinics with them along with some other activities such as visiting the Paul Farmer hospital in Mirebalais. Medical groups are less physically demanding but some might say more tiring than construction teams. The mental and emotional energy you need to expend especially as someone who is one of the leaders of the group is massive. Before that team leaves, we have Konekte coming from Princeton on the 26th and leaving the 3rd of July at which point I will be returning to visit for two weeks by God’s grace. Konekte does a variety of things from construction to sports to teaching though I am not fully aware of what they will be doing this trip.

Which brings me to vacation. I have kept in contact with my family and a few friends via FB/WhatsApp but it will be nice to be able to see and talk to and fellowship with them in person while I am there. One of the two weeks I will be back will be taken up by my extended family’s reunion on my mom’s side. Every three years we rent several ski lodges in West Virginia and hang out for a week together with cousins and uncles and aunts. It’s a family tradition that has been happening ever since I was born and before. I haven’t seen many of these people since the last reunion in the summer of 2015 so it should be a great time. That means though that my time in NJ will be cut short. I am only going to be available from the 14-16 so I might not get to see some other people until I return at the beginning of October.

God is so good. I can’t believe it has already been 20 months already. Time is such a weird thing isn’t it?

Anyway, I thank you for continuing to support me while I’m here especially with your prayers; they are coveted and needed. I am super blessed by all of you beautiful peeps.

May God continue to bless and keep you.

With love,

Ben

 

When peace like a river…

I’ve recently been finding out that if I have a hard time processing things, it helps to just write about them, so if this seems all over the place, that’s why haha.

God never ceases to amaze me with his timing.. I am ever in wonder of how he places things just when we need them in just the right situation. It’s one of the things that he has been opening my eyes to more and more while I have been serving in Haiti. The funny thing is, often times I don’t even realize that I need whatever he is presenting until he gives it. What an amazing God we serve!

Anyway, as I have blogged most recently, my future is one of question and unknowing. For many people (myself included), an unknown future of any aspect is often cause for worry, alarm, distress, etc; I have experienced this much in the past. As of recent though, God has graced me with this mysterious peace that seems to shroud most of the questions I have about my future. Everyone has dreams and visions for their own future and how they would like it to go and what they would like to do, etc. Of course I am no different as I have certain things that I find pleasing or good that I would like to be included in my future. As I have also blogged as of recent, I’m not sure God will honor these things as his will is much higher than mine and his plan is perfect. This is always a tough thing to wrestle with no matter how much faith you have. There will always be that (at least) one thing that keeps bothering you about not knowing every detail of your own future.

Today is no different. I am still unsure of what my future holds as it looms nearer; I am officially done in Haiti in just under four months. I’m sure all of you know what it feels like to try something and fail, right? Well isn’t that what life is? We all are seeking to find God’s will and when we feel something could be part of his will for our lives we reach out and nudge the door to see if it opens. The hardest test of faith isn’t in the waiting or in the unknowingness (yes I know that’s not a word) of our future but truly in how we react to doors that we feel are right and good that don’t open when we push them. Again, I need to keep in mind that God’s timing and plan is perfect but that doesn’t make it any easier in the moment. It gives us hope for the future knowing that God knows what’s ultimately best for us AND him but it gives little comfort for the present. This has become the test of faith for yer boy.

I want to say “surprisingly though..” but should I really be surprised at how God knows exactly what we need in any moment and chooses in his love and grace to give it to us? I guess I shouldn’t. Well, in the face of a door that I have deemed “good” not opening I have been given a peace that passes my understanding. I was thinking about this peace this morning and the image or likeness of one of those overstuffed chairs that lean back came to me. You know what I’m talking about? When you sit in one of those and just lean back and sink into it’s sweet fluffiness and all is right in the world? Well that’s what it feels like to “sink” into the peace that God has provided. It is a sweet rest knowing that he’s got this all figured out and my part in my future is to just trust him and follow his leading.

There is just no end to the goodness of God, everything that happens to me happens for his good and also for my own good even when I don’t see it as good in the moment. This is a truth that I have been learning to rest in more and more. That doesn’t make it easy to let go of my own will though; I have to constantly sacrifice my own will to the Father’s. I may not know details but I do know my future is gonna be lit…

Shout out to sister Tash for encouraging and praying for me.

Again, thank you for your interest and attention in these strange blogs. lol

May God continue to bless and keep you all,

Ben

 

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”

-Horatio Gates Spafford (1873)

Lemme boast in YHWH

Good morning/afternoon/whenever you are reading this! It Is Sunday and I am waiting for Stone Hill’s live stream to come up and I’ve wanted to post for a couple days but didn’t know what to post about until this morning. I’d like to take time on this beautiful Sunday morning to brag about my God! I’ve been talking about the future in many of my recent posts so let’s take some time to focus on the past and what God has done in my life.

*gulps coffee* …can’t get away from this stuff…

So this whole thought process isn’t new to me; what God has done in my life over the past 5 years or so, it was just recently impressed on me afresh by a good friend and brother Mike. I have been asking people I know about possible job openings in facilities for the fall in order to hopefully set something up before I get back home or within the first couple months at most. Mike is involved with Liquid church in north Jersey and as some of you might know, they have many different campuses and are still growing at a rapid rate so I thought to myself, “They must have job openings in janitorial services cus they have so many buildings, lemme ask Mike.” WELL he gave me what I call a “Bobby Tunstall” response… A BT response is simultaneously full of wisdom and challenge. As you may guess, I don’t really like these kind of responses/questions/etc.. because they make me uncomfortable and usually involve something that I don’t want to do.. Mike’s response was “well we can talk about it but why do you want to do janitorial services when you’ve had two years of leadership training in Haiti?” I was like (in my head) COME ON really? Just let yer boy live his life! But if I’m honest, he is right.

This leads me to the topic of today’s blog. Over the past, I’d say, 4 or 5 years, God has changed me exponentially. Ask anyone who has known me well for more than 5 years and they can tell you some of what he has changed. My mom and dad have had front seats along with my brother Adam to the movie that has been my adult life. My good friends Nada, Scott and Jericho could also attest to how God has changed me. In fact, Nada and I were just talking the other day about how I used to be really mean back in the day and how my anger issues permeated areas of my life. Bobby Tunstall could also tell stories about what I used to be before he asked me to be a youth leader (and during that time as well). I could go on and on about this but let’s get to the meat of the subject; what God’s actually done.

Let me paint a picture for you of who I was before a couple years ago. I was the guy who put a young girl in the hospital because I couldn’t control my anger. I was the guy who used to look at porn daily because I couldn’t control my desires. I was the guy who would shy away from any responsibility because I didn’t want the pressure. I was self-serving and immature in many ways. I used to be a sheep; I never wanted to be a leader. BUT let’s not give power to past sins by focusing on them. THERE HAS BEEN CHANGE! *insert hallelujah hands emoji* By the GRACE of my God simply and exclusively I have been molded into a leader. I have been able to get a better handle on my anger and lust. I have taken responsibilities that I never thought I ever would. God has taken this lump of clay and fashioned it to his liking and his purpose; like I’ve said many times before and every time I share my testimony, I never wanted to or thought I would be living and serving in Haiti. I have come to enjoy who God has pushed and pulled and broken and restored me to be. I still don’t like how he does it (and maybe never will) but I have come to enjoy the end result of every opportunity he places in my lap and I begrudgingly take.

All this to say, I am far from perfect. There is much that still needs to be changed. I am still desperately in need of grace and forgiveness each and every day! But I wanted to just boast in my God for a little bit!

To tie this all in, I don’t yet know what God has for my future but I am starting to think it might not be janitorial services when I get back (still don’t like the idea of that though..). But I have come this far by his grace and leading to know that HE holds all the cards. He’s the one that makes the plans that always succeed and always go according to his will. I’m just here thinking about what’s next and he’s sitting up there saying “I got this Ben Henrie.. don’t you worry.”

I’m excited to see what he decides to do with me when I’m done in Haiti. His will is far greater than mine, as are his ways!

Have a blessed Sunday all,

With love

Ben

3..2..1..reset

It’s about that time. The past couple of days I’ve taken an unnecessary amount of losses when it comes to fighting the sin in my life. I believe I can say that all of you know what I’m talking about when I say this: there are times in our lives when we just give in to temptation because we are either tired of fighting or we are just apathetic towards what Christ has done for us. Well the past couple days have been just that, so yesterday and today I’ve decided to take the fight to the enemy.

Before coming and living in Haiti, I barely ever fasted. It was a spiritual discipline that I exercised only once a year when we (the youth group) would do the 30 Hr famine for World Vision and team up with youth groups in the area and have a fun time while doing it. Outside of that thirty hours, I never fasted. It wasn’t only because I love food so much but also because I didn’t feel the need to do it. Oh how spiritually immature I was! If only I knew the power of the weapon of fasting when I was younger I think I would be much stronger spiritually than I am now and I would have had many more victories under my belt (so to speak) against temptation and sin. But, you know what they say, “better late than never!” The past year or so I have started practicing the discipline of fasting and have unlocked some new power in my life. I have experienced first hand how fasting can turn the tide of spiritual warfare.

That being said, it has been a pleasure exploring for the first time the victories and growth that private fasting can give and the openness of communication with the Divine. I can’t believe I hadn’t ever done this before, I was definitely missing out! I was fasting one day a couple months ago after a group left and God gave me a vision. This was the first vision I had ever had!! I was in the air being wrapped in the huge white wings of Christ. In that moment I felt more at peace than I have ever felt in my entire life. I felt more secure and right and loved than I had ever felt before. I tried to look up at Jesus’ face but all I saw was light, it only lasted a couple seconds and then I was back in my bed with the fan blowing in my ears. I sometimes close my eyes and go back to that place to feel the warmth and love of God when I need an extra dose. It was amazing and I believe I wouldn’t have had that vision if I wasn’t fasting! I am hoping that this wasn’t the only vision God gives me, I am hungry for more.

So as you may have guessed with all my talk about fasting, that’s what I’m doing today. After a few days of repeated failures I know I need a reset. I need to re-set my eyes on Christ and the cross and the victories I ALREADY have in him. I need to reset my spiritual disciplines and fill up on spiritual food and get back into quiet time and prayer. Prayer is another thing that I have learned about while I’ve been here, it’s something that God has taught me the power of. So while I fast and pray today I ask that you pray along with me. There are many things that I have asked you all to pray about over the past year and a half but these things are what need the most attention at this point:

Refocus on Christ
Reset of spiritual disciplines
Renewed and increased desire to READ the Word
Peace for the future
Clarity for future choices
Provision for the future
And as per yuge, thanks for your continued support! This journey hasn’t been easy but I know that because of you all, it’s been blessed!!

Much love,

Ben